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Gephardt Busts Inflation: Despite growing demand for digital coupons, most are still printed

Elle Johnsen and Maddy La Fleur shop for chips at a Reams in Sandy on May 18. Consumers like digital coupons, according to data shared with the KSL Investigators. But that same data shows most coupons on the market today are still paper.

Elle Johnsen and Maddy La Fleur shop for chips at a Reams in Sandy on May 18. Consumers like digital coupons, according to data shared with the KSL Investigators. But that same data shows most coupons on the market today are still paper. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Consumers like digital coupons, according to data shared with the KSL Investigators. They are customized to an individual's shopping habits, easy to use and, unlike their paper counterparts, they don't get lost since most are connected to smartphone apps or an email inbox.

But that same data shows most coupons on the market today are still paper.

Inmar, which works with businesses and manufacturers to develop coupons, found that 91% of all coupons are old-fashioned paper coupons. That's a problem when you compare it to consumer demand — 34% of coupons that are actually used are digital, Inmar found.

"So it's really, really uneven contribution from digital today," said Spencer Baird, Inmar's interim CEO. "Only 5% of what's distributed is what consumers value most."

With consumers way more likely to use digital coupons, as the data suggests, companies are getting on board. You've probably noticed that just about everywhere you shop there's pressure to download and shop using that store's app. Baird says some of that is directly tied to couponing.

"Most often consumers are interacting with digital incentives through the app for the retailer that they typically go to," Baird said. "So that's really something that jumps out immediately you open up the app, boom, the coupons are right there."

The benefit to the store is they can market to you. The benefit to you is that the marketing usually means offering you a discount on stuff you may be needing to buy anyway, and maybe remind you of a coupon that you forgot about or didn't even know was available.

But not all apps are that consumer-friendly, so Baird's advice for folks looking to save is to pay attention to digital coupons before you get to the store.

"It's important that, as consumers are out there looking to save dollars, that they're being a little bit more prepared in a way they go into the grocery store, or to whatever store that they're shopping, because there's a lot of dollars tied in there," Baird said.

According to Inmar's data, 74% of shoppers use digital incentives. That's up 13% since the middle of 2021 and the data indicates that that trend is continuing, Baird said.

As companies compete for your business, it may feel overwhelming being asked to download dozens of different apps for every place you shop – or even individual products – but there are savings to be had doing so.

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Matt Gephardt
Matt Gephardt has worked in television news for more than 20 years, and as a reporter since 2010. He is now a consumer investigative reporter for KSL TV. You can find Matt on Twitter at @KSLmatt or email him at matt@ksl.com.

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